< The Fall of Abadis | Sol Invictus Logs | Rather Occupied >

Summary: Cerin brings his recently acquired staff to Varanim, and learns a bit more about the Crownless King.

XP:C1, V1

Cerin ::Varanim,:: Cerin's mental voice comes over the ring-link they share. It sounds quite strained, as if Cerin has really been exerting himself. ::Are you busy? I would appreciate some advice on something which is hopefully in your field of expertise.::

Varanim There's a momentary, unusually palpable sort of silence, and then she says, ::The odds of you calling me for a stupid problem are low. What is it?::

Cerin ::I'm holding a staff with a Hekaton in it::

Varanim ::...where are you?::

Cerin ::Somewhere around 400 miles south of Chiaroscuro.::

Cerin ::Next to a large storm of necromantic origin.::

Varanim ::...If you have a mirror on you, now would be a good time to stop using it to check your makeup.::

Cerin ::Should I instead place it on the floor a few feet from me?::

Varanim ::I always said you were a bright lad.::

Cerin ::Well, if you just wait a few moments, it's currently Elsewhere::

Cerin calls his cache egg and extracts the small mirror he keeps in there. This he then places on the ground and steps back a few feet.

Varanim After a minute, Varanim's left arm quite suddenly appears, soulsteel fingers splayed out to over the mirror's surface. Several seconds later the temperature drops sharply, and with a sort of wet tearing sound the rest of her becomes visible, kneeling by the mirror with the Mask of Summers still on.

Varanim pushes it up, but doesn't stow it away as she takes a hard look around.

Cerin is holding a large soulsteel staff with a representation of Auna wrapped around it. It appears at one point to have had decoration in bone, although this has been defaced. She can't help but notice that Cerin currently appears to be using it, at least in part, to keep himself upright.

Varanim examines the staff, then Cerin, then the staff again with narrowed eyes. "Tell me," she says, as she drips blood in one eye to examine the Essence of the thing on both sides.

Cerin "I noticed a strange current on the winds, as though a storm was brewing and went South to find it. Which is where I found one of the Ija and some ghosts performing a ritual, which seems to be where ..." he gestures off to the column of roiling black smoke which reaches up into the storm. "...came from. I destroyed the spectre, which doesn't seem to have stopped anything. So I started to converse with the Tongue of the Serpent."

Cerin He indicates the staff. "He went quiet at about the point in time I started to cut the bone."

Varanim "Oh, that's interesting," she says distractedly, squinting at the head of the staff. "The rabbit goes around the hole, jitters up and down a lot..." Looking up at him while thinking, she adds, "Will you be all right?"

Cerin "Unless you have some disquieting news for me, I imagine so."

Varanim "I've been practicing my quieting news, just ask Imrama. Now," she nods at the staff, "how much do you know about where that came from? They're not really free-range, is the thing."

Cerin "Very little. I would like to assume the Ija necromancer brought him to Meru, but that would be an assumption."

Varanim reaches out toward the staff, then pauses and cocks an eyebrow at the storm. "I can check that, but it may not be the most urgent business. Has that thing been spreading?"

Cerin "Not since it reached its present size."

Varanim "Anything else I should know before looking up this thing's skirt?"

Cerin considers. "It knew of the person who preceeded Ymir. The Crownless King. I would be interest if this staff's history and his crossed at any point."

Varanim "I'll see what I can do." Varanim herself looks exhausted, but with that feverish gleam that she gets in her eye sometimes. Two fingers trace a complicated diagram on the air around the staff, then she wraps her Essence and her will around it, flinging her mind into the past with the Crownless King and the maw of the Labyrinth sitting attendance on her shoulders.

The veil of history splits open, and the weight of what has come before reveals itself to Varanim.

Where often she sees history play out upon a miniature stage, here Varanim sees... bursts, fragments of the history that has come before: the carving of the bone, the selection of blood-rubies from Netheos' deep south, the work of the spectres who filled it with molten soulsteel through the barren eyesockets and capped them with the rubies...

When she pushes back yet farther, the visions grow more jagged, abstract; the difficulty of engaging the world before the fall of the Primordials pushes against her vision with all of its might, and only sheer bloody-mindedness nonetheless pushes through it to what lies beyond.

Varanim spots someone, sitting crouched atop a dune; ratty and torn, but once elegant, clothing covers his full body, while brown rags are tied around his hands; his face is shadowed, unclear.

In the same desert setting, a great serpent, its eyes like fire, its scales shimmering with heat, its teeth dripping with venom -- and Varanim knows when she sees it that it is from whence the bone came.

Then, flashes: chaotic, battle... the King's hands wrapped in blades of golden light, but his face still obscured; the beast's flesh hacked apart, and the King's clothing torn further, blood dark with venom running down to spatter the sand...

The last image she sees is of the King snapping the serpent's neck from behind, face still occluded but a golden corona ringing his head, and then cutting down its length -- just as Cerin had the staff, moments ago -- to pull free the bones within.

Varanim retrieves her flask and takes a drink, starts to put it away, then offers it to Cerin while she gathers her thoughts.

Cerin accepts it without comment, and takes a sip.

Varanim "The staff was a spectre craft project, no shock--someone should teach them how to make birdhouses. Before the Primordial war," she frowns, "he killed the serpent to take its bones. Golden light around his hands and head, but even when he breaks its neck and cuts it"--she moves her fingers in echo of the slice--"his face is in shadow."

Cerin "Interesting," he says and returns the flask to her. Can sidereals not do anything with originality? "Thank you."

Varanim "Did that actually help anything?" She considers, takes another drink, then puts it away.

Cerin "Well, it suggests it wasn't lying. Beyond that, I suspect further research will be needed. What is the purpose of the staff? To hold a hekaton?"

Varanim nods. "What do you plan to do with it next?" She absently eyes the black boil of the storm, adding, "You should check in soon. She misses you."

Cerin "I'm not sure. I had considered destroying it, but I thought you'd appreciate a look first."

Varanim looks like he's just suggested smashing the coolest new toy ever. Then she reconsiders. "It might be funny."

Cerin "If you have an alternate idea, I'm all ears."

Varanim spreads her hands in a shrug. "It's the sort of thing that if you keep it around long enough, will inevitably be useful for something hilarious. But it's not guaranteed that you'll be the one laughing, if you know what I mean."

Cerin nods. "Well then," he says and makes a gesture which creates an impression of a bow. "I don't think we should be near this when I attempt to destroy it, so if you'd be kind enough to throw it straight up?"

Varanim "You just want to make fun of my throwing arm, mister bigshot archer," she grumbles, but takes the staff. She holds it for a moment with a sort of fond reluctance to let go, then she shrugs and draws back her muscular soulsteel arm to fling it as high as she can.

Cerin tracks the staff as it flies before he unleashes a hail of arrows. The first sets the staff to spinning, allowing the next four to score their way up the bones with all the fire of the sun before the staff reaches the top of its arc, tipping over ... and allowing the head to meet the trio of minature suns head on.

The bolts strike true at the staff's head, and explode in a shower of golden sparks spread intermittently through an outrushing cloud of black smoke. There is a hideous death rattle that echoes down from where the staff met its end, and then, shortly thereafter, the first signs of the wind breaking up the massive tower of black smoke begin to appear.

Cerin "Ah, good," Cerin remarks as he sees the smoke start to disperse. "That seems to deal with my next question."

Varanim smirks. "I won't even charge for that."

Cerin grins. "Tell her I'll see her next time I sleep."

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Page last modified on November 29, 2009, at 02:11 AM